As you are doing that heavy set of squats, you’re panting, you have sweat in your eye, and your legs are burning so intensely that you don’t know if you can do one more rep. You pause at the top contemplating going back down one more time and taking this set a rep further. Suddenly, that burn gets so uncomfortable you might cut yourself short and put the bar back. Later on you might beat yourself up over it, resonating in your mind how you could have done another rep but that uncomfortable burn was just so strong at the moment, that you couldn’t handle it. What if I told you there is a way to prolong your sets and have this burn in your muscles be delayed allowing you to take your training to the next level?
There is a supplement that can help with this called beta-alanine.
How does it work?
In the gym, our main goal is to give our body a signal to grow and get stronger. This is achieved through doing multiple repetitions accumulated through sets. Every time you contract a muscle, or do a repetition, your body releases hydrogen ions which lower the pH levels within your muscles, thus greatly increasing acid build up. As this acid build up increases, you will have weaker contractions, and that burn starts setting in which usually means your set is about to end. There is a system in our body that tries to balance out our pH levels again preventing this burn to be debilitating; this is done by your body releasing a dipeptide called carnosine. Carnosine will dramatically improve the power to push through a set and allow your muscles to have more endurance.
Now you may ask, if carnosine is what does this, how does it tie in with beta-alanine?
Supplementing with external beta-alanine is what drastically raises carnosine levels, and this is what will help us get the endurance we are after. Sebastian Balcombe, author of Beta-Alanine: Science Meets Real World Results, concluded that supplementing for only 4 weeks with beta-alanine can increase carnosine concentration by up to 65%, and even up to 80% with supplementation of 12 weeks or more. These are drastic increases that should be taken advantage of by anybody looking to improve their athletic performance.
With such great benefits, is it safe?
Beta-alanine supplementation has not been studied as extensively as other supplements such as creatine, but currently there are no studies that show negative physiological reactions with supplementation of up to 12 weeks. Although, more long term studies must be conducted to fully understand the long term effects of it. A lot of people feel an itchy discomfort after taking it, but that is just a normal reaction many get to it. It is a completely safe reaction and only lasts momentarily.
How Do I take it?
Most of the research on beta-alanine supplementation has been conducted using a dose of 3-6 grams of beta-alanine daily. From what we gather in the research, it does not matter specifically what time of day you take beta-alanine, what matters most is that it is taken daily to keep carnosine levels constantly raised. Many like taking it specifically before exercise as they find the “tingles” from it as a mental wakeup call before training.
Many preworkouts have beta-alanine in them, but the problem is oftentimes the dose ends up being much lower than the recommended one, and most don’t take their preworkout daily. So it is important if you want the full benefits of it, to supplement it on its own.
Beta alanine can help any athlete looking to improve their performance in a natural way. Supplementing with 3-6 grams of beta alanine daily will help you prolong the built up of lactic acid, thus being able to prolong your sets and make them longer. Prolonged sets will mean you will be gaining more muscle by adding more time under tension to your workouts. Make sure that you maximize your muscle gains by supplementing with beta-alanine!
With the pursuit of achieving the best possible physique and helping hundreds of clients do the same, Juan Rojas has dedicated his life to finding the best strategies for transforming human bodies. Constant research, trial and error and continous education in the exercise physiology and nutrition field, Juan Rojas thrives off finding the most efficient ways to transform your body and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.